A former Redwood Falls man with a history of convictions for violent crimes shot and killed a St. Cloud State University professor in an apparent random shooting in St. Cloud Sunday morning.
Dr. Edward Anthony Ward, a business school professor in St. Cloud since 1990, was shot while standing in a doorway of a residence just after 6:15 a.m. in St. Cloud, according to the St. Cloud Police Department.
Police set up a perimeter and attempted a K9 track to locate the suspect, but were not successful.
About 45 minutes later, at 7:04 a.m., police dispatch received a call about a male armed with a gun walking on 4th Avenue South. Police arrived and took the Jason Robert Beckman, age 45, of Duluth, formerly of Redwood Falls, into custody without incident. A handgun was recovered at the time of the arrest.
Beckman admitted to police he had shot the man in the doorway. Police at this point believe the incident to be random and say there appears to be no connection between Beckman and the victim or the neighborhood. Beckman is in custody in Stearns County Jail on probable cause murder.
Beckman has a recent history of convictions for violent crimes for which he received reduced or stayed sentences. He had a felony conviction for third-degree assault in 2018 in Redwood County. His 18-month sentence on that conviction was stayed. Most recently, Beckman was convicted in Redwood County in October 2020 on felony counts of third-degree assault and fifth-degree narcotics, and a gross misdemeanor charge of domestic assault.
According to court records, the 15- and 13-month sentences on the third-degree assault and narcotics convictions were stayed and Beckman was instead sentenced to 115 days in local jail on each charge. The 365-day sentence on the domestic assault conviction was reduced to 90 days in local jail. Beckman was credited with 77 days already spent in jail and was placed on probation.
Beckman was back in court on March 1 of this year and was found to have violated the terms of his probation. Instead of having his probation revoked and his sentences executed, Beckman was again ordered to serve only 90 days in local jail on the probation violation. Under Minnesota law, offenders are only required to serve two-thirds of their sentence incarcerated, or 60 days in this case, leaving Beckman free by May.
(This article contains information from the St. Cloud Police Department, the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office, the Redwood County Jail, and Alpha News.)